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RHAPSODY (OF FIRE)

Progressive Metal • Italy


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Rhapsody (of Fire) biography
RHAPSODY released their first album "Legendary Tales" in 1997. The Italian power metal band incorporate classical and baroque sounds into their music, a combination which proves to be very powerful. Each album fits into one ever-expanding storyline, "The Chronicles of Algalord", comparable to the great literary works of the fantasy genre if we deem musical imagery as viable for such purpose as the constructs of effective writing. Certainly the band create the same scale of setting, indeed the same epic atmosphere in their fantasy work as may be found in such literary tales as the masterworks of Tolkien.

It is very hard to draw legitimate comparisons between RHAPSODY and other bands. Some cite similarities with THERION, who also record with full orchestra and choir. THERION however combine metal (in some cases, death metal) with the Wagner school of classical music, creating large-scale Nordic soundscapes. RHAPSODY bring together power metal with medieval, baroque and classical period music; Vivaldi, Bach, Paganini, Verdi are all major influences and the result is a distinctly Italian flavour. Ultimately, RHAPSODY are unique.

The members of RHAPSODY are Alex Staropoli (harpsichord, keyboard, piano), Luca Turilli (guitars), Fabio Leone (vocals), Alex Holzwarth (Drums) and Patrice Guers (bass). All may be considered virtuosos on their respective instruments. In addition to this 5-piece core, a great many other musicians, vocalists and even actors have collaborated over the course of what are now seven albums.

Following the release of "Symphony of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret", RHAPSODY were forced for legal reasons to change their name, opting instead for the title RHAPSODY OF FIRE. On the subject of that album, it is the manifestation of all the experience the band have gained producing five albums previous to it and is without doubt a masterpiece. Christopher Lee narrates much of the storyline in a diverse album that will appeal to a greater portion than merely the fan of the power metal genre. I go as far as to recommend it and the band to all who enjoy first class musicianship and skillful composition.

: : : "Ktrout" : : :

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RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) discography


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RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.74 | 137 ratings
Legendary Tales
1997
3.74 | 142 ratings
Symphony of Enchanted Lands
1998
3.77 | 113 ratings
Dawn of Victory
2000
3.64 | 90 ratings
Rain of a Thousand Flames
2001
3.43 | 94 ratings
Power of the Dragonflame
2002
3.74 | 116 ratings
Symphony of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret
2004
3.61 | 83 ratings
Triumph or Agony
2006
3.78 | 107 ratings
Frozen Tears of Angels
2010
3.57 | 96 ratings
From Chaos to Eternity
2011
3.67 | 41 ratings
Ascending to Infinity (Luca Turilli's Rhapsody)
2012
3.92 | 26 ratings
Dark Wings of Steel
2013
3.78 | 32 ratings
Prometheus, Symphonia Ignis Divinus
2015
3.72 | 29 ratings
Into the Legend
2016
3.64 | 14 ratings
Legendary Years
2017
3.82 | 11 ratings
The Eighth Mountain
2019
3.67 | 3 ratings
Zero Gravity (Rebirth and Evolution)
2019
3.29 | 7 ratings
Glory for Salvation
2021

RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.31 | 23 ratings
Live in Canada 2005 - The Dark Secret
2006
3.91 | 11 ratings
Live: From Chaos to Eternity
2013

RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.91 | 16 ratings
Visions from the Enchanted Lands
2007

RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.56 | 12 ratings
Tales from the Emerald Sword Saga
2004

RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Land of Immortals
1994
4.00 | 1 ratings
Eternal Glory
1995
3.68 | 13 ratings
Emerald Sword
1998
4.00 | 13 ratings
Holy Thunderforce
2000
3.38 | 16 ratings
The Dark Secret
2004
3.23 | 11 ratings
The Magic of the Wizard's Dream
2005
2.80 | 33 ratings
The Cold Embrace of Fear
2010
3.33 | 3 ratings
I'll Be Your Hero
2021

RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Power of the Dragonflame by RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.43 | 94 ratings

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Power of the Dragonflame
Rhapsody (of Fire) Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

3 stars Since 2000's Dawn of Victory, Italian power metal heavyweights Rhapsody had started to shred the symphonic influences off their music, veering towards a more traditional neoclassic power metal sound. Released in 2002, Power of the Dragonflame takes a further step in this direction, to the point that this is probably the heaviest and darkest of the five albums released by the band since their inception.

Things start off fast and powerful after the obligatory choral intro. "Knightrider of Doom" showcases all the best qualities of Rhapshody, from the thunderous rhythmic section, to the fast yet melodic riffs of mastermind Luca Turilli, to the spectacular vocals that climax in an epic chorus sustained by heroic backing vocals. The classical and acoustic instrumentation that one can find on Rhapsody's earlier albums play a lesser role here as on the rest of the album. The Baroque overtones are also less prominent and as a result the album feels more direct and aggressive than the previous ones. At times, the influences of classic metal bands like Manowar surface quite prominently, like in the powerful "The March of the Swordmaster" or "When Demons Awake". These tracks could have been lifted off Manowar's epic album The Triumph of Steel and are among the best offerings of this record, albeit slightly derivative in sound.

Elsewhere, Rhapsody's penchant for operatic drama shines in all their glory, like on the superb ballad "Lamento Eroico". Sung entirely in Italian, this is probably the best ballad ever written by the band, with a style that conjugates the power of metal with the drama of opera, exploding in a majestic chorus that you'll want to singalong to at full volume. There's a slight dip in the album's quality from this point on, which is only partly redeemed by the 19-minute long closing track "Gargoyles, Angels of Darkness". As many other Rhapsody's suites, this song presents highs and lows. It has a great acoustic intro that nicely develops into a more metallic section. However, things lose steam quickly afterwards and the over-acted narration that is woven around the sung parts eventually kills the song's mood for me.

Yet, this is probably one of the most fun and straight up records from Rhapsody. It's energetic and packs a hell of a punch, but it also has good melodies and great epic vibes. It's a worthy conclusion to the Emerald Sword saga that the band had started on their debut album (although, believe me, you may want to ignore the lyrics because there is some Manowar-level cheesiness in there). The only problem with this album is that the steady progression towards a heavier and faster sound has progressively reduced the difference between Rhapsody and the rest of the classic/power metal scene. In fact, every time I spin this album my first reaction is to go and grab Manowar's The Triumph of Steel. That's not a bad thing necessarily, but it goes to show how Rhapsody's sound has gradually grown derivative over the years.

 Rain of a Thousand Flames by RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.64 | 90 ratings

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Rain of a Thousand Flames
Rhapsody (of Fire) Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

2 stars Rain of a Thousand Flames is now considered Rhapsody's fourth full-length record, but when it came out in 2001 was advertised as a "specially priced album". This was essentially an EP with the duration of a full album, and it was meant to work as an appetizer while fans were waiting for the "main course" Power of the Dragonflame that would be released only a few months later.

The new album continues in the direction that Rhapsody had taken on their third record Dawn of Victory. The music is faster and more aggressive, sacrificing the symphonic influences and classical/acoustic instrumentation in favour of a ballsier and more direct power metal sound that reminds me more of Manowar than Blind Guardian (the band that Rhapsody were frequently compared to at the beginning of their career). This is particularly evident on the title-track, a raging affair that does not give the listener a second to catch breath amidst relentless double-bass drumming, razor-sharp riffs, and shouted vocals.

The rest of the album continues in a similar vein, albeit "Queen of the Dark Horizons" is more melodic and features a bombastic chorus that brings me back to the band's origins. In my opinion this is the best piece of the album, while the following suite "Rhymes of a Tragic Poem" that closes the album, is probably the lowest point of the record. I have always thought that Rhapsody are a bit hit-and-miss when it comes to lengthier, more complex compositions and "Rhymes of a Tragic Poem" proves the point. There is very little cohesion across the four tracks that form the suite and very little sense of song development. Moreover, large sections of these four tracks are ruined by the use of a narrator (Sir Jay Lansford). This was Rhapsody's attempt at making their music more cinematic and filmscore-like, but the end result is fairly dismal. The acting is cringeworthy and the damn voiceover goes on for what seems like forever at the beginning of the suite, completely killing the mood.

Rain of a Thousand Flames is in my opinion the weakest chapter of the Emerald Sword saga that spans the band's first 5 albums. It's still worthy of your money if you are a completionist. Plus "Queen of the Dark Horizons" is a very good piece that would not have disfigured on Dawn of Victory, combining bombastic melodies and power in Rhapsody's best tradition.

 Dawn of Victory by RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.77 | 113 ratings

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Dawn of Victory
Rhapsody (of Fire) Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

3 stars On their third album, Italian power metal masters Rhapsody started to slightly change the formula they had so successfully employed on their previous two records. Legendary Tales and Symphony of Enchanted Lands were remarkably constructed using in equal part heavy doses of neo-classical power metal and elements of Baroque music, opera and epic soundtrack music. It was a mixture that hit the spot, allowing the Italians to carve their own niche as extraordinary bards in the busy world of European power metal.

Dawn of Victory takes one step or two further in the direction of muscle and speed, tilting the scale in favour of metal rather than classical/operatic music. The songs are faster and more centred around guitar riffs than classical orchestrations. The album is also more decidedly electric, as the score of acoustic and classical instruments that had been copiously employed on previous records is considerably reduced here (Baroque recorders and a violin). This switch towards the heavier side of the band's sound partly reflects the development of the storyline that now enters a more bloody and belligerent phase (Dawn of Victory is the third instalment of a multi-album concept about the battle between good and evil in a Tolkienesque fantasy world). However, I also suspect that their first tour experience in 2000 may have also played a role, as the band probably realized that the incredibly nuanced and multi-layered studio compositions of the first two albums were incredibly hard to reproduce live. The songs written for Dawn of Victory are more direct, aggressive and metallized compared to the previous two records, and I can imagine they would have been much more impactful in a live setting.

The quality of the music remains high. Luca Turilli's fast-as-lightning guitar riffs and neoclassical melodic leads drive the songs, with Alex Staropoli taking the role of co-lead and throwing in a few excellent keyboard solos. The rhythmic section is powerful and relentless, and the work of drummer Thunderforce is particularly impressive (the band never revealed the identity of Thunderforce and some even think the drum parts were actually programmed ? either way the drums are on fire on this record). Fabio Lione confirms his status as one of the best singers in the genre, with a dramatic and operatic voice that can hit high notes but also transmit emotions and feelings.

The tracklist is consistently good, making this one of my favourite Rhapsody albums to play. There are still a couple of songs that stand out for me and are among my favourite from the band. The title-track is an epic monster with one of the best power metal choruses I ever heard. "The Bloody Rage of the Titans" starts as a ballad with piano and vocals and then develops in a fantastic mid-tempo with strong cinematic vibes and again an excellent chorus. "Dargor Shadowlord of the Black Mountain" and the single "Holy Thunderforce" are also remarkable especially for their thunderous pace and trailblazing guitar riffs. The lengthy closing piece "The Mighty Ride of the Firelord" is intended to bring the album to an epic finale, but is actually where Rhapsody show their compositional limits as the track feels more like two songs stitched together than a well-structured, multi-part composition. I also have to subtract points for the general silliness of the concept and sappiness of the lyrics. The stories of dragons, princesses and knights are a trademark of the genre, but they have been told in much more convincing ways by other bands than Rhapsody.

Nevertheless, Dawn of Victory is a fun record to listen to, and feels fresh and spontaneous, which is a blessing after the slightly deflated and overproduced Symphony of Enchanted Lands. It marks a transition for Rhapsody music towards a more standard power metal sound where the patterns and instrumentation of Baroque music play a lesser role than in the previous albums. The band will further continue in this direction on the following records, further reducing Rhapsody's uniqueness in the power metal scene. Fortunately, Dawn of Victory is just on the right side of this transition, which makes it one of my favourite Rhapsody albums to date.

 Symphony of Enchanted Lands by RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.74 | 142 ratings

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Symphony of Enchanted Lands
Rhapsody (of Fire) Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

3 stars Only one year after having released their remarkable debut Legendary Tales, Italian power metal heavyweights Rhapsody hit their fans with an ambitious sophomore album, Symphony of Enchanted Lands. Advertised as a bigger and bolder continuation of their first record, the new album pushes even further the epic and bombastic style of the band, to the point that Rhapsody's music began being described as "Hollywood metal". But the real question is: was it for the better?

I am not sure I have a straightforward answer. In some aspects, Symphony of Enchanted Lands feels superior to Legendary Tales. Rhapsody seem more assured in their compositions and stretch their legs more comfortably beyond the simple verse/chorus paradigm they had used on Legendary Tales. On the new album we have three songs that clock above the 6-minute mark where Rhapsody experiment with tempo changes, multi-part structures and recurring themes, giving a progressive touch to the proceedings. The interplay between electric and acoustic/classical instrumentation also feels more fluid and accomplished, which is impressive considering the breadth of instruments used on the album, from complex keyboard orchestrations, to a strings ensemble, to a harpsichord to Baroque recorders and lutes. There are also three different choirs, a female singer and a narrator who accompany Rhapsody's lead singer Fabio Lione. The scale of the project, and the smoothness of its delivery, are outstanding and worthy of the Hollywood film score comparisons that the band was striving to achieve.

On the other hand, the music seems to have lost some of the spontaneity and sense of excitement that had characterized the best moments of the debut album. Perhaps this lies in the eye (ears) of the beholder, as the novelty I experienced listening to Legendary Tales inevitably fades in a sophomore album that works essentially with the same aesthetics, albeit on a bigger scale. It's hard to shake off the impression that we are being given "more of the same" on this new album, which may be fine for some, but that bugs me a little, especially when I listen to the two records back to back.

Despite my misgivings, Symphony of Enchanted Lands is a strong album. The musicianship is stellar and the album boasts a great mixture of power metal and Baroque music that is perfect to trigger the feelings of epicness and grandeur the band was aiming for. The fact that Rhapsody managed to pull off such an ambitious, large-scale project only two albums in their career is a strong tell-tale of the qualities of the Italian combo. If you are a fan of epic power metal who wants to see speed and muscle combined with nuance and complexity, you are going to love this.

 Legendary Tales by RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.74 | 137 ratings

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Legendary Tales
Rhapsody (of Fire) Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

4 stars Growing up as a metal fan in Italy, it was pretty much impossible to miss the explosion of Italian power metal supernova Rhapsody. It instantly became the biggest and most successful Italian band to be recognized internationally in the genre, and Luca Turilli's face was on the cover of almost every metal magazine across the Italian Peninsula. Of course I had to buy their debut album Legendary Tales - and so I did. Although I have never been a big power metal fan, I remember that Legendary Tales blew me away. It was vastly superior to any other Italian power metal band I had listened to and it compared favourably to those acts that I considered the sacred giants of the genre (Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius). Moreover, it somehow possessed a distinctively Italian melodicism that made me connect deeply with the 10 songs of the record. Still today I consider it a very fine piece of work, probably one of the best by the band and in the genre as well.

It's easy to see why this album worked and still works so well. It has a very well-defined sound that stands out as fairly unique in comparison to other bands in the genre. Turilli (guitars) and Staropoli's (keyboards) stroke of genius was to combine the trademark sound of neoclassic/power metal bands, like Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, Helloween, Gamma Ray and a touch of Manowar, with classic instrumentation and patterns from Renaissance and Baroque music (Italian's folk rock composer Angelo Branduardi has always been a clear influence for Rhapsody). The resulting effect is one of the best and most veritable evocations of medieval and Renaissance epic chivalry and adventure that can be found in metal music. You may argue that Blind Guardian also worked on a similar sound, which is true, but while the Germans were essentially a metal band with folk influences, in Rhapsody the fusion of metal and Baroque folk music is more complete and more fulfilling.

The Italians had many more arrows in their quiver than a distinctive sound. Technical proficiency was one of them. Turilli is a great guitar player, who can play fast without ever losing sight of melody or phrase construction. His duels with the classical string instruments and Staropoli's keyboards are nearly as satisfying as the most flamboyant instrumental detours you may find on progressive rock/metal records. And then there is Fabio Lione ? a fantastic singer with a very theatrical voice and a mighty vibrato that will transport you straight back to the world of opera in Italian Renaissance. Contrary to the (too) many frigid, high-pitched power metal singers out there, Lione is extremely expressive and warm, which for me is a big bonus. The singer is also helped by a rich multi-voice choir that often joins Lione in the songs' choruses, heightening even further the epic zest of the music.

The sound production is also excellent, guided by the expert hands of Sascha Paeth (who also plays bass on the album) and Miro. This was another massive step forward compared to the contemporaneous Italian metal productions: the album sounded massive, with sufficient clarity to let the listener appreciate all the nuances and complexity of the music without losing an ounce of power.

The album is entertaining from start to finish, albeit a few songs stand out as particularly strong. This is actually a common theme across many Rhapsody's album: although the quality level is generally good, each album feels constructed around one/two obvious masterpieces, surrounded by somewhat minor tracks. The honours of best pieces on this record go to the opener (after the obligatory intro) "Warrior of Ice" and the following song "Rage of the Winter". These tracks are a perfect manifesto for what Rhapsody were trying to do with their music. They are epic and bombastic, but powerful and incisive too. And they pack some stellar choruses, which can never hurt. "Forest of the Unicorns" is also great: it's a nice, semi-acoustic ballad where the band fully unleash their Baroque folk spirit.

From then on the album starts to plod a little bit, as the band keep alternating what are essentially lesser versions of the first 3 songs for the rest of the record: either fast-paced, powerful epics or languid folksy ballads. This detracts somewhat from the overall listening experience because the initial excitement wears off a little as the minutes go by without too much variation in the composition department. Another let-down are the rather silly and simplistic lyrics and storyline penned by Turilli. The writing technique seemingly consists in throwing around all possible stereotypes about knights, princesses, dragons and other fantasy creatures without too much attention to plot development or realism. The album concept? and the whole saga spanning across 5 records ? could have been so much better in the hands of a more subtle and savvy narrator.

Nevertheless, Legendary Tales still occupies a special place in my musical collection. My power metal "phase" quickly dissipated at the turn of the century and nowadays I only occasionally listen to this genre, but I keep returning to this album from time to time. It's fresh, daring, interesting, fun and epic as hell. If you are in the mood for a good dose of heroic fist-pumping and chest beating metal, you simply can't go wrong with Legendary Tales.

 Rain of a Thousand Flames by RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.64 | 90 ratings

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Rain of a Thousand Flames
Rhapsody (of Fire) Progressive Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars For the 4th installment of "The Emerald Sword Saga," RHAPSODY continued its epic fantastical medieval themed soundtrack metal (as they call it) and started a new more progressive phase in its compositional style. RAIN OF A THOUSAND FLAMES differs from its three predecessors in that it recounts a parallel episode in the tale which took place shortly after "Dawn Of Victory" where while the Warrior of Ice is away, Akron ravages the lands with the coveted Emerald Sword. The album is rightfully conveys a sadder tone with more contemplative passages and tales of loss.

RAIN OF A THOUSAND FLAMES also engages in longer classical meanderings with massive choirs that convey emotional tones and colors before the main vocals of Fabio Lione triumphantly narrate the saga at hand. RAIN OF A THOUSAND FLAMES also utilizes themes from other bands' works such as the near 14 minute epic sounding "Queen Of The Dark Horizons" based on the main theme from Italian prog soundtracks superstars Goblin's main theme from the horror picture soundtrack "Phenomena." Likewise "The Wizard's Last Rhymes" is based on "New World Symphony" composed by Antonín Dvořák.

While the album is considered somewhat of a side story, it still approaches the 42 minute mark and primarily is composed of two main tracks: "Queen Of The Dark Horizons" and the four part "Rhymes of a Tragic Poem - The Gothic Saga" which consists of the four tracks: Tears of a Dying Angel" (6:22), "Elnor's Magic Valley" (1:40), "The Poem's Evil Page" (4:04) and "The Wizard's Last Rhymes" (10:37)" but together are almost 23 minutes in duration. The album is a lot more progressive with more varying themes and stylistics changes. While certain styles had been used for individual tracks in the past, RHAPSODY successfully infuses sprawling choral sections, classical compositional melodies, power metal heft and medieval folk flavors seamlessly into massive sprawlers.

While the symphonic power metal is still the dominant species on this album, RAIN OF A THOUSAND FLAMES is more similar to the band's debut "Legendary Tales" where there are more deviations from the neoclassical speed and pure folk jubilees although pure folk can still be found especially in "Einor's Magic Valley" which is based on an Irish traditional jig called "Cooley's Reel" which is simply a section of the "Rhymes of a Tragic Poem - The Gothic Saga," the most sophisticated and intricately designed epic complex on the album. Throughout the four suites, many new avenues are explored such as new vocal styles, more cinematic soundtrack themes and incessant stylistic shifts including a passionate spoken narrations that reminds me of films like "Lord Of The Rings."

Perhaps one of the most ambitious RHAPSODY albums, RAIN OF A THOUSAND FLAMES truly takes on the cinematic soundtrack metal characteristics that the band has always been associated with. Everything on this one is on steroids and the dramatic themes lend to great subject matter that allows the musical deliveries to take on myriad heavy-handed roles that are constructed to convey the story in more fascinating constructs than the previous albums. This is obviously music that will hit you as cheesy from the getgo or dynamic and drama driven with epic tomes that recount the greatest medieval themes that are so popular these days. While nothing new under the sun, RHAPSODY nevertheless adds a passionate take on these themes with some of the most stunningly precise musical performances that bring life to these tales. Personally i think this one is generally under appreciated in relation to surrounding albums.

4.5 rounded up

 Dawn of Victory by RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.77 | 113 ratings

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Dawn of Victory
Rhapsody (of Fire) Progressive Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars RHAPSODY continued its five volume album series that thematically covered an overarching tale called "The Emerald Sword Saga" which exemplified a classic good-vs-evil tale that narrated fantastical lands of myth and monsters. DAWN OF VICTORY is the third installment in this universe and once again crafted by the powerhouse compositional team of Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli. While it may seem the early RHAPSODY albums sound very much alike, it might be helpful to remember that the five chapter series that composes five separate releases could in reality be considered a single massive project that is broken down simply for the sake of marketing and not overwhelming the fanbase.

DAWN OF VICTORY continues the classic symphonic power metal prowess that not only displays the epic fantasy themes but also showcases the extraordinary musicianship that is unleashed. Turilli once again delivers an incessant display of guitar virtuosity complemented with lightning fast neoclassical wizardry and Starpoli exemplifies the same fiery passion on keyboards. The music is once again a mix of not only symphonic power metal but also features many brushes with pure European folk music most obvious on tracks like "The Village Of Dwarves" and while not quite as metallic as, say, Ensiferum or Korpiklaani, still packs a power metal punch at key moments but are heavily dependent on violin and flute sounds.

For the most part, RHAPSODY heeded the criticism of the band's debut when it allowed sprawling symphonic parts to carry on with no metal bombast. DAWN OF VICTORY continues this correction that was achieved on "Symphony Of Enchantment" and continues to keep an extremely fast power metal guitar rampage throughout most of the album with only the lesser folk focused tracks deviating from the formula. While it's not obvious, DAWN OF VICTORY also saw the debut of Alex Holzwarth as the new drummer but the style is so similar and in line with the musical deliveries that there are really no idiosyncratically stylistic changes that will give him away as a newbie as his percussive precision is as top notch as all of the other musicians involved in this fascinating project.

I can understand why this style of metal is considered too cheesy and over-the-top for some however the classical underpinnings keep this a highly melodic adventure with the metal emphasis keeping it in the head banging zone. Fabio Lione's vocals are absolutely perfect for this operatic tale of fantasy worlds and the mix of keyboards and guitars ensures an interesting mix of metal bombast and atmospheric emotional tugs. While most tracks hover around the four to six minute range, the finale "The Mighty Ride Of The Firelord" charges its way up past the nine minute mark and offers one of the most progressive and diverse tracks as it narrates the final chapter in this musical tome of the series. The track is also probably the most successful at summing up the many stylistic shifts of the album as it displays both the symphonic power metal and folk aspects in tandem.

While not substantially different from the previous albums, RHAPSODY does a good job at mixing things up just enough to sounds like its retreading previous musical explorations. For example there are always new approaches to riffs which are mostly crafted through time signatures, riffing styles and dynamic shifts otherwise the folk, classical and power metal elements remain staunchly in place. With music this beautifully designed it's hard not to love the hell out of it and when thought of as merely phase 3 in the 5 part series, it would be a disservice to deviate too far too fast from the formulaic approach. RHAPSODY is one of the most consistent bands in power metal and the third album DAWN OF VICTORY does not disappoint in that regard one little bit.

 Symphony of Enchanted Lands by RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.74 | 142 ratings

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Symphony of Enchanted Lands
Rhapsody (of Fire) Progressive Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Italy's Luca Turilli and Alex Starapoli pioneered the new subgenre of symphonic power metal in creation on the 1997 RHAPSODY debut "Legendary Tales" which set their mystical medieval folklore laden lyrics to a unique mix of symphonic classical and baroque music, power metal and Celtic folk that was drawn out to epic scopes and to which the band RHAPSODY has always referred to as film score metal for its high fantasy polished and hard driving operatic sound circus. The band returned the following year to deliver the stellar sophomore release SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS which fine-tuned the melding alchemic musical principles into a greater cohesive whole.

One of the main complaints about the debut was that the metal was only intermittent as sprawling classical tinged folk laden symphonic marches swallowed up vast amounts of real estate with only partial metal satisfaction for head banging pleasures. SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS more than corrects that and offers a much greater presence of the power metal elements in the vein of classic Helloween augmented with the tighter control of the classical symphonic prowess that makes this second offering a much more energetic listening experience as it traipses through the mystical musical worlds of dragons, orcs, mages and Middle Earth sensibilities.

While RHAPSODY's style may sound cliche by today's standards, this Italian band was the one that kicked off this epic over-the-top symphonic power metal thing. So true that power metal does have its share of cheese and RHAPSODY is no exception with the strident operatic vocals of Fabio Lione wailing over the soaring neoclassical guitar shredding, power metal hooks and Celtic jigs meets J.S. Bach musical interludes but the stellar performances of the musicians pretty much blew everyone else away in the scene during the 90s and with a whopping sixteen guest musicians playing everything from mandolins, balalaikas, oboes and violins to marching drums and harpsichord, it's almost as if this entire performance was done by a group of classical trained musicians moonlighting to their favorite metal style.

The saga begins with the epic soundtrack intro of "Epicus Furor" which not only introduces a Carl Orff sort of classical bombast but displays one of the most epic elements of the entire album, namely the outstanding choir sections that build up the momentum and lead to the metal fury of "Emerald Sword." Different tracks focus on different musical genres as the lead musical flavor. While the "Emerald Sword" rips through the metal orotundity, the following "Wisdom Of The Kings" breaks out the folk melodies that incorporate stellar baroque keyboard stabs into the mix and flawlessly weaves the magic of pastoral lands, metal power angst and classical nights at the opera. Both Starapoli and Turilli trade off with virtuosic neoclassical soloing and Lione delivers a soaring vocal charm that despite being the strongest element of the band's sound somehow fits into the larger scheme of things.

Despite some of the best tracks of RHAPSODY's career such as the thirteen minute progressive closing title track which summarizes the entire album in a mystical amalgamation of the disparate genres presented, the album has its moments that don't quite work so well. While the baroque meets folk interlude "Heroes Of The Lost Valley" starts off as a sweet soiree of a folk meets baroque encounter of the days of yore, the narrative part brings out all the cheese with some contrived poetic prose that sounds like an intro to a video game tutorial. However despite a few moments where the cheese factor is turned up to ridiculousness, for the most part it's tamped down in favor of some intricate melodic interplay of the main instrumental prowess of guitar, keyboards, bass and drums with the army of supplemental sounds mainly serving the introductory parts.

Despite more emphasis on the power metal, by no means was this at the cost of the symphonic classical elements nor does it mean the folk and other instruments have been diminished one bit. It's just that things had been integrated into a much larger picture that fits into the grandeur of the epic tale at hand. RHAPSODY were the masters of alternating between heavy bombastic metal and lush classical passages and back again with elements of folk, vocal choirs and even symphonic prog that keeps the music interesting enough for repeated listens as it chugs along and then at the drop of a hat smoothly drifts around like a feather on a zephyr breeze. RHAPSODY developed their unique style early on but on SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS, the band created a more mature version of it and would remain amazingly consistent in their run of albums that followed. Better in many ways than the debut but a few speed bumps keep it from being perfect as well.

 Legendary Tales by RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.74 | 137 ratings

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Legendary Tales
Rhapsody (of Fire) Progressive Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Known as the pioneers of fusing power and symphonic metal into epic fantastical journeys, Luca Turilli and Alex Staropoli created their progressive neoclassical driven band all the way back in 1993 in Trieste, Italy under the moniker Thundercross before finally changing it to the more familiar RHAPSODY, only then to be altered once again to RHAPSODY OF FIRE in 2006 due to trademark issues. Really? It took someone ten years to figure out they didn't deserve the name? Geez.

Riding in the wake of power metal bands like Helloween, Running Wild and Blind Guardian, RHAPSODY was all about fantastical voyages into the world of mythical creatures, wily wizards and the eternal battle of good and evil and their debut album LEGENDARY TALES the band began the lengthy and never-ending epic journey into their high fantasy musical world of "The Emerald Sword Saga" which spanned over five albums ending with "Power Of The Dragonflame."

Fantasy and mythology are nothing new in metal of course and traverses throughout the entire metal universe with bands like Summoning devoting their entire subject matter to Tolkien inspired themes. RHAPSODY took a similar approach only changing things around a bit to create their own mystical folklore that finds the similar Middle Earth approach between the battle of good and evil in a glorious bravado.

The album takes the frenetic energy infused riffing of power metal and applies rich symphonic and emotionally dense segments that include flutes, recorders, harpsichord, violins, cello, mandolin and a rich eight piece choir (tagged as the Choir Of Immortals) along with the expected metal instrumentation of guitar, bass, drums and classic operatic over-the-top vocals. The sheer scope of the journey is performed with technical wizardry and easily takes the listener to the epic lands far away from the reality we experience in the here and now.

Yeah, power metal can be a bit cheesy at times but when it's done right, it is grand and intense. The problem usually arises in that the band in question doesn't quite have the chops to pull off their visions. RHAPSODY is chock full of virtuosic talent focused on Luca Turilli's speed-drenched guitar wizardry, Alex Staropoli's keyboard gymnastics and excellently constructed compositions that focus on all aspects of the music without any particular style or genre stealing the show. These guys have mastered the art of musical foreplay and climax like few others in the metal world yet deliver all the metal goods in ample doses.

While the metal riffs are primarily based on 80s Manowar taken to more ambitious extremes, the neoclassical solos reminisce of Yngwie Malmsteen's classically charged shred wankery. The keyboards on the other hand exist in a neo-Baroque universe that compliment the guitar segments but often find moments of expressing unadulterated J.S.Bach glory. Mountains of melody emerge through carefully constructed flute and recorders while choirs caress the soundscape with harmonic bliss.

RHAPSODY's debut LEGENDARY TALES truly took metal's most virtuosic and ambitious aspects to new heights with outstanding musical performances within perfectly drawn out journeys that fleshed out emotional depth with a stellar performance by vocalist Fabio Lione whose vocal range shatters glass when on fire and yet carries a perfectly calm demeanor when poetic prose is in order. It's no wonder RHAPSODY has been so successful starting from this not so humble beginning. All the elements have already gelled with the band's vision having been crystal clear by mapping out a complete five part saga for their debut.

The excellent performances are even more stellar with the superb production job from Gate-Studios in Wolfsburg, German with Sascha Paeth of Heaven's Gate and Angra fame at the helm. This is a stunningly rich collection of ten outstanding tracks that contain no samples or synthesizers. All instruments heard are the real deal. While i am blown away by LEGENDARY TALES it falters only in the more tightly composed epics that follow but consistency has been one of RHAPSODY (OF FIRE)'s strengths and this debut is certainly no exception.

 Legendary Years by RHAPSODY (OF FIRE) album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.64 | 14 ratings

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Legendary Years
Rhapsody (of Fire) Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Rhapsody have had an interesting career path, to say the least. What started as one band has been split in two for quite a while, with guitarist Luca Turilli behind Luca Turilli's Rhapsody, and keyboard player Alex Staropoli leading Rhapsody of Fire. Here, Alex has taken his band of merry men on a romp through songs from the first five Rhapsody albums, and in case anyone doesn't realise what is going on this selection is named after the debut, 'Legendary Tales'. What I have always liked about any of the Rhapsody bands, is that they not only have grandiose and almost Wagnerian Ring Cycle ideas, but they like to have the guitars tightly bound together with drums driving it all along. This may be Alex's band, but he acts more as a conductor and arranger, pulling the musicians in the way that makes total sense to his ears.

I haven't actually heard these early songs, so can't comment as to whether they are performed in a better or worse manner than the originals, so I am treating this instead as a brand new album by RoF, and in that context this works incredibly well indeed. They shred, they bring in a chorus, they stop the music dead, or let it sprawl through the speakers like an unstoppable lava flow, laying waste to all the lies before it. Fabio Lione is an amazing singer, and until this album has been the voice of first Rhapsody, and then Rhapsody of Fire, but here Giacomo Voli has taken on the role and it has to be said that he has done a very done job indeed. Overall this is a great album, and stands well in its own right, as well as an introduction to a band who have been at the forefront of symphonic metal for more than twenty years.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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